Those acts of violence were charged as assault and murder. So why bother tacking on a domestic terrorism charge?

First, because the FBI and other federal law enforcement agents who track information on potentially radicalized individuals fail to share that information with state, local, and tribal jurisdictions before these individuals commit crimes of terror. The federal agencies are not hiding the ball because they want to be deceitful but because there is no law against domestic terrorism.

Second, every prosecutor worth her salt wants the full panoply of charges available to her when attempting to extract information from a defendant. In those key post-arrest hours, a prosecutor wants to be able to confront a defendant with the real threat that he or she will be facing multiple counts of domestic terrorism. In some cases, that threat may make a defendant give up information about a co-conspirator or other planned attacks in the hope of having those charges taken off the table.

Both the House and Senate have bills before them that would mandate that the FBI and other federal agencies share information with state and local officials about potential domestic terrorism threats. But those bills are not law, which means that our local and state law enforcement officers do not have nationwide access to the FBI database on these so-called radicalized individuals.